Five things: As it happens...

Ryan Lambert
February 29 2012 11:19AM

1. ...It was neither

I guess that's as close to realism as this franchise is going to get.

After we heard all about how the franchise was Going For It and (most of us) feared what horrible implications that might possibly have, it turns out the team stood pat at the deadline and it went by with little more than an extension for Tim Jackman, which we'll get to in a second.

So for all the rending of garments, no, Feaster wasn't stupid enough to sell off what meager non-roster assets the organization has laying about for a guy like Andrei Kostitsyn or whatever, which, if it's not tacit acknowledgement that this team, if it were to sneak into the playoffs — not a guarantee — would get scalped by Detroit or Vancouver in four, maybe five, games and be golfing about a week and a half later than originally planned, at least shows he's sensible.

Brian Burke is 1 trillion percent correct when he says the prices are absurd on deadline day, and that scared almost all GMs off moves worth noting apart from the frankly startling Cody Hodgson trade. Feaster was of course wise not to engage in that kind of bidding, which led to someone giving up a first-round pick for Paul freaking Gaustad.

But at the same time, he seemed not to be willing to trade anyone from the team (again, the Jackman re-signing), which, given the prices, likely disappoints the "rebuild" crowd, of which I am obviously amongst. Not that I believe there would have been an incredible number of bites for a Kiprusoff or Iginla, at least, not ones sufficient enough to get them out of town, but could a Jackman or a Kostopolous or someone like that have fetched something? Probably. However, if you hadn't long ago abandoned the dream of an earnest rebuild, you're an idiot. So there's that.

Standing pat really is the best of both worlds. It gives the "the answers are in that room" crowd the ability to prove themselves right, and the "blow it up" crowd the ability to say they told you so when the Flames finish the year in 10th. Everyone's getting what they want, really.

2. Speaking of Jackman

I like the re-signing. He's a good, and now extremely affordable, player and that's validated by so many teams (apparently) calling and asking about him on Monday.

He does okay against bad competition, which is all that's ever asked of him, and while this season probably hasn't gone as well as anyone would have liked, he's almost certainly a better player than this. I'm not saying he's a Shawn Thornton type who chips in 10 goals a season while carrying a fair amount of menace for other enforcers, but four or five goals a year seems a reasonable expectation for a guy who plays his role.

The Flames have, for the most part, used him pretty well, and it's good to see him rewarded for it.

3. Monday's loss shows there's a long way to go

Okay so the other thing about the group that thinks this is a team that compete for the playoffs is that they saw their arguments in no way bolstered by Monday's feckless performance.

Yeah, the Blues are a good team, but they're not exactly elite in this league either, and it's not exactly encouraging to see the Flames keep getting leads and then immediately piss them away. This time, they didn't even have the decency to bring a lead out of the first period, conceding two goals inside of six minutes to go in the period, and that was the end of that.

Holding an opponent to 24 shots is good and all but generating 21 is decidedly not and that's 11 straight games in which the Flames have been outshot. More to the point, Calgary got slaughtered on the dot (30-19) which is pathetic on home ice. The goals allowed were not very good and the fact that the penalty kill gave up two goals to a team that had been struggling to score on the power play can't be encouraging.

Miikka Kiprusoff has been great this season (excepting that first St. Louis goal) but if you're only going to score one for him, as Calgary has in three of the last five games, you're not gonna win a whole hell of a lot.

4. Close to getting Moss back

The good news, though, is that we're now less than a week away from David Moss's projected return to the lineup. He's targeted for a March 5 return, barring setbacks. That's next Monday.

It's one of those things teams who don't make a significant move at the deadline say when they don't make a significant move at the deadline, but Moss coming back really does add a "top-nine" (see also: bottom-six) forward to the lineup that has been lacking. That was likely enough for Feaster to not go out and acquire one with a pick he couldn't afford to give, which is a good thing.

I went to the Flames' website and it said the team had lost something like 282 man-games to injury (I'm not sure how often they update it) but with more guys coming back all the time, maybe the "this team can compete for a playoff spot" crowd will be proven right after all.

(No, they won't be.)

5. I'm a little worried that was too negative

Here's Jarome just to be sure.

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Yer ol' buddy Lambert is handsome and great and everyone loves him. Also you can visit his regular blog at The Two-Line Pass or follow him on Twitter. Lucky you!
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#1 Robert Cleave
February 29 2012, 11:28AM
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On the off-chance people are looking for an injury list, Brittany at Sabres in 7 has been regularly updating her unofficial list since December.

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#2 SmellOfVictory
February 29 2012, 11:35AM
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On Jackman: it bears noting that his centre has gone from Michael Backlund to Matt Stajan. Much as Stajan is above the average 4th line centre, in no world would I entertain the thought that he's as good as Backlund was even last year.

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#3 PrairieStew
February 29 2012, 11:43AM
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@Robert Cleave

300, with several qualifiers. 44 for Carson, 24 for Karlsson, and 23 for Babchuk, still over 200.

Without looking at the value of the players injured on competing teams :

Anaheim 172 Chicago 92 Colorado 192 Dallas 142 Los Angeles 129 Nashville 107 Phoenix 83

If Calgary gets healthy and lady (bad) luck visits Chicago and Phoenix.....

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#4 schevvy
February 29 2012, 11:44AM
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Also on Jackman: he has the worst SH% of NHL forwards- 1.2%. That's bound to go higher even though he doesn't have the "shooter's touch". I could go out and shoot 1.2%... (ok maybe not)

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#5 kevin r
February 29 2012, 12:09PM
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Lots of end of days talk but given Kipper got us this close

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#6 backburner
February 29 2012, 12:15PM
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I was really pissed off after Feaster did nothing at the deadline, but I realized I am more pissed off with the lack of emotion, or drive of the Flames players. It seems like year after year the this is the biggest issue with this team. We all know Iggy is a great player when he gets mad. Steve Downie would have been awesome pick up..

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#7 Kent Wilson
February 29 2012, 12:27PM
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@schevvy

You're right. He was at 7.6% last year, which is still low but not outrageous.

Jackman has been mostly unlucky this year. His plus/minus and offensive output aren't really indicative of his play.

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#8 the-wolf
February 29 2012, 12:39PM
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"see also: bottom six"

HAR! LOL!!!

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#9 Bob in the Abbey
February 29 2012, 12:48PM
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backburner wrote:

I was really pissed off after Feaster did nothing at the deadline, but I realized I am more pissed off with the lack of emotion, or drive of the Flames players. It seems like year after year the this is the biggest issue with this team. We all know Iggy is a great player when he gets mad. Steve Downie would have been awesome pick up..

Completely agree. Watching the lack of output on Monday, especially the 2nd period, was hard to take. You'd think after finding out they're still one big happy family they'd go out and put on a good show. No such luck.

Feaster keeps mentioning that the solution is in the dressing room. As much as I respect Iginla for all he's done for this team, this city and the sport of Hockey I keep recalling the Jim Playfair interview from SN960 last month where he compared Jarome to Shane Doan...and some of the comparisons where not flattering to Iginla. I think ownership needs to face reality and call for a change in the room.

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#10 Sean
February 29 2012, 01:00PM
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What I'm sick of is seeing a luckluster second power play unit. The best way to address this is to dress Anton Babchuk instead of cory Sarich. It's not like Sarch's defensive play has been stellar latley and it would be move Tanguay from the left point to the wing on the second power play unit. I'm tired of seeing kostoplous or jackman out there. Awesome grinders don't get me wrong but ask them to shoot a one timer and your no closer to scoring than standing behind your own net.

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#11 the-wolf
February 29 2012, 01:16PM
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Here's my problem with it all:

Too many fans and especially the MSM are allowing the Flames to frame the argument.

The Fan for 2 days is going on and on about, "you can't just give away players, you can't just give them away, you can't, you can't!!!!"

Fact 1: Calgary is not a legit Cup contender and more than likely not even a legit 8th seed playoff contender.

Fact 2: Their 2 franchise players are 34 years old.

Fact 3: Owners refuse a rebuild.

Fact 4: Ownership has a mandate to win now.

Ergo, one would think that given Facts 1-4, the team would do whatever is necessary to add pieces, whatever the cost to the future, in order to make a run for this season and next season, before Kipper and Iginla turn 36.

Apparently not.

It's not fair to say there are no pieces to move in order to make a run. There are still top prospects and 1st round picks. Is it ideal to move them? No, but see above.

So, the team says the following:

- will not trade Iginla, Kipper, Joker, Glenx (more than likely)

- will not move any pieces of the future.

Than they come out and say there were no deals to be made and that offers weren't high enoough.

Really???!!!!!

You mean, the unwillingness to move any top players, top picks or top prospects meant no other teams were willing to give us anything of value???!!!!!!

WOW!!!!! WHAT A FREAKIN' REVELATION!!!!!!!!!!

Intellectual honesty, indeed. The MSM in this city need to stop allowing the team to frame the argument. To get value, you have to give up value.

Instead we stand pat with out 2 'pillars' turning 35 next year. But we won't add for one last run. And we won't rebuild either.

Stupid.

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#12 RKD
February 29 2012, 01:37PM
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Update: David Moss is very likely to return ahead of schedule and is expected to in the lineup against Phoenix tomorrow night.

This means Calgary can once again roll two solid experienced lines since mid November when Moss went down. He's a big body who besides Jokinen, is the only other Flame who stands in front of the net.

Top six is now: Glencross-Jokinen-Iginla, Tanguay-Cammalleri-Moss

that second line is a big upgrade from Kostopolous-Cammalleri-Comeau.

They could also reunite the OMG line and move Tangs and Cammy up a line too.

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#13 the forgotten man
February 29 2012, 01:52PM
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@the-wolf

Yeah...my frustration isn't really with the players, they have achieved roughly to the level of their talent. One needs hope though, and for me that always lies with the team management and ownership. I have zero confidence in the current regime running the flames, ergo no hope. Akin really to leadership at any political or business level...s&!t always rolls downhill.

Besides the fact that I never thought the Feast had much hockey acumen, his behavior this season also has me questioning his sanity- he starts the year with his Joe Namath impersonation guaranteeing a playoff berth and quite likely a division title (insert girlish snicker), and then learning nothing from that verbal diarrhea butt ends the trade deadline with a Mel Gibson Lethal Weapon crazy eyes diatribe on a national broadcaster...seriously WTF??? I wouldn't trust this guy with a lemonade stand, nevermind a pro hockey team...are these the actions of someone in control of his thoughts and processes?? If it is all an act then please Jay get a life...this is the NHL, not Stampede Wrestling.

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#14 Graham
February 29 2012, 02:10PM
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The only thing wrong with Feaster is his job title. He is a lawyer with business experience, so he should either be an Asst GM handling contracts / cap issues, or in a business related position like Team President. He simply does not have the hockey acumen to be a GM, or work in 'hockey' areas.

My solution to the Flames problem, replace King with Feaster, and hire a real hockey GM with the power to make changes, eg; hire his own coach, implement his own strategy etc...

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#15 Justin Azevedo
February 29 2012, 03:19PM
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@RKD

I would prefer to bury glencross-jokinen-moss and allow tanguay-cammalleri-iginla to take on second tier comp. probably better for the team.

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#16 RexLibris
February 29 2012, 03:59PM
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Regarding injuries:

I always hear players and fans and media and my neighbour's dog say that injuries aren't an excuse. Well, sometimes, frankly they are. In this case, injuries may not be an excuse, but they could certainly be an explanation. There is a difference. The year that L.A. tanked and ended up drafting in the top five they set an NHL record for man games lost (somewhere in the 500 range).

Looking at the list Robert so kindly offered of man games lost this season I see Pittsburgh, Florida, Calgary, Buffalo, Montreal and then Vancouver as the leading teams in injuries this season.

Pittsburgh and Vancouver have the depth and circumstances to weather that (in Pittsburgh, most of those are from Crosby, I'm guessing). Calgary, Buffalo, and Montreal don't have that depth. It is a testament to Florida and Dale Tallon (and the Southeast Division) that they have been able to manage those injuries and still compete.

Looking at the injuries that the Flames have suffered and then extrapolating some of that as an explanation of their subpar performance leads me to one conclusion. This team really isn't very good and probably doesn't deserve to have a playoff spot. If they had lost Kiprusoff, Iginla, or Bouwmeester to extended injury then such a failure would be understandable. Giordano, Glencross and Tanguay are the only significant injuries that ought to have had this significant an impact on the team. Losing Moss, Backlund, Babchuk, and others of similar status should not sink a team's playoff hopes.

This team is in need of a massive upgrade of it's supporting cast, and depth, if the management is indeeed set on trying to maintain a playoff contending team.

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#17 Bruins
February 29 2012, 04:56PM
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feaster is a businessman not a hockey man and king is buddies with ownership.If the owners are serious about building a competitive hockey team they will replace these people with good quality hockey people if not they will stay on their current course which really sucks

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#18 DieHard
February 29 2012, 05:40PM
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Flames re-build starts this summer. A top 10 pick will occur and a decent defenseman will be part of the future. The next 3-4 years will include lottery or close to lottery picks. Please, just stop trading your second rounders and you should be fine in 6-8 years. Sorry.

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#19 wawful
February 29 2012, 05:46PM
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I'm not convinced you need an ex-NHL player to be your GM. Hockey seems to be going the way of Baseball and Basketball in that a good quant can make an excellent GM.

Feaster isn't really a quant, but he's hired some quants (who probably had a hand in last year's draft), plus he has Craig Conroy to lean on for advice from the player perspective. This would fit his public claims of relying on others to help him make decisions. Feaster may be the contract guy, but he relies on quants and Conroy to help him figure out what to do.

Going forward, I can see the Flames retaining a similar executive structure and doing well. Feaster will probably be around for at least another season, but he could be replaced by a math guy. Conroy will probably be given more power as he gains experience (It may be that Conroy is being groomed to succeed Feaster, although then I'd expect a quant assistant GM.). This gives the team direction both from a traditional hockey background and from a stats background. It's a recipe for smart acquisitions and good player management. If Conroy does eventually become GM, he'll do a great job taking care of public relations too.

What we should be watching for in the off-season is to see if the Flame's quants can pull off another good set of draft picks (Hopefully last year's draft wasn't just a fluke), if Feaster can sign free agents to contracts that offer the team good value, and if the team can move overvalued assets for undervalued assets, all while getting younger. It's a tall list, but one that is reasonable to expect for a team with so much money that it can hire a quant staff, contract guy, and hockey guy where some teams make do with just a hockey guy.

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#20 RexLibris
February 29 2012, 05:51PM
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@wawful

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Quant&defid=5344150

Which "quant" are you referring to? Definition 1 or 2?

Sorry, it was too tempting to resist.

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#21 wawful
February 29 2012, 06:01PM
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@RexLibris

License to pun revoked! ;)

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#22 Kent Wilson
February 29 2012, 11:14PM
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@RexLibris

This team is in need of a massive upgrade of it's supporting cast, and depth, if the management is indeed set on trying to maintain a playoff contending team.

Actually, it's the opposite conclusion: the team needs a massive upgrade up top if it's to truly compete.

As I've pointed out before, it's the depth players of the Flames that has been floating the club. Remember the Flames inverted pyramid:

http://flamesnation.ca/2011/7/26/the-calgary-flames-and-the-inverted-possession-pyramid

The big boys don't drive play. So when Moss went down, Glencross moved up (and then got injured), Stempniak got hurt and then Backlund, most of the team's possession forwards were gone. That was fine as long as Iginla et al rode the percentages, but it's no coincidence the club has been soundly outshot since every other middle tier player went down.

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#23 Willi P
March 01 2012, 01:54AM
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"this is the NHL, not Stampede Wrestling"...That sir, is a "ring a ding dong dandy"

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#24 Kurt
March 01 2012, 08:15AM
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According to reason this season is done.... Baring a miracle run we do not have anything resembling a realistic chance at making the playoffs.

Check out this site: Flames Playoff Chances

Its pure math and based on the fact that teams above us play each other so its impossible for them both to lose (ie when Dallas plays LA).

Puts us at 19% chance of making it. If we lose 6 more games we have at best at 68% chance. If we want to get above an 80% chance we can't lose more than 5 games. If we lose 7 more, down in the 25% range.

Its just not gonna happen..... The best thing to do now is start cheering for loses. The blessing in disguise is that the parity has put us 3 pts from the playoffs but 3 points from 13th in the West.

It might feel good for a few minutes this spring to miracle squeak in. But the best thing organizationally would be for us to lock up that 13th spot and hopefully get into the bottom 5. We could even win the lottery (Chicago did to get Kane when they finished 26th). Now that would make this season worth it.

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#25 CA Flames Fan
March 01 2012, 10:19AM
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Kent et al, with a few strings on does the rebuild start this summer, what the rebuild needs to look like, etc, from the teams that have rebuilt over the last few years, how do you see a Flames rebuild looking like?

Some fodder for discussion: [1] STL - Liked when they brought John Davidson in as Pres a few years ago when STL was brutal. Yes he was in the MSG broadcast booth for YEARS but still a connected hockey guy. Add in Al Mc as VP Hockey Ops and STL has a strong front office. Add in some poor years that has paid of in solid draft picks, STL getting better was a when and never an if.

[2] PIT - The years between the real end of #66 and the start of #87 were tenuous on and off the ice for the Pens. They have successfully rebuilt twice in the last 20+ years. How? Finally some stability in ownership (with a vision), and oh yeah drafting #87, #71, #11, and #29 helped.

[3] TB - Yes TB still has Vinnie and Marty, and Stamkos, but the real move that will position TB for Cup #2 is Stevie Y. This isn't "his" team yet. When it is team watch out. A when with TB not an if.

Which brings us to this team, its management and its owners' intent. The Flames rebuild seems more an if than a when.

With PIT, TB, STL those cities have plenty of other sports (NCAA, MLB, NFL) to distract away from some lean years for their NHL teams.

As much as I don't like the multiple owners (fragmented decision making, priorities, etc) or non-hockey management (Ken King) that has been here too long and has too cozy a rel'n with the owners, the painful reality in Calgary is the Flames are IT. We LOVE this team. I think the owners do to. But the pain that a drawn out rebuild could bring is a hard pill for all of us to swallow. Becareful what you wish for.

Kent, still wishing we could clone Badger Bob.

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#26 RexLibris
March 01 2012, 12:01PM
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@Kent Wilson

I totally agree with your inverted pyramid, but that's why I included the caveat of "management's intentions". There has been a pretty clear indication that they (Feaster, ownership, etc) are reluctant, if not totally unwilling, to move the top end of the team and ownership has spent a roster's generation (from approximately 2002 to present) shuffling pieces in and out with only an occasional major shakeup (Phaneuf, Regehr, Conroy).

So given the assumption that this method will continue and that to debate management about it is pointless, my argument is that there is a need, within the reasonable expectations of what might Feaster will even consider, to upgrade the complementary talent.

It is clear that Iginla and the rest of the core are no longer capable of performing at the level that a core must if their team is to challenge, but it has also been made clear that changes to some of the proverbial sacred cows of the organization will not be considered.

The reason I argue for a significant upgrade in the supporting cast is because there is a window of opportunity this off-season for it. Management's willingness, the expiry of several contracts, and the market's stock have all coincided to give the Flames this option.

This does give me a good opportunity to bring up a question for you, Kent. I'm led to believe that Iginla prospers in the offensive zone, is a defensive liability and needs to be sheltered in his zone starts and QualComp in order to perform at his historic levels at this point in his career. If I'm wrong, please correct me. But, if those statements are accurate, then what might be a viable trade partner for a player with those strengths and weaknesses and with his age and (brief)cap hit? Just curious.

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#27 the-wolf
March 01 2012, 12:35PM
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RexLibris wrote:

I totally agree with your inverted pyramid, but that's why I included the caveat of "management's intentions". There has been a pretty clear indication that they (Feaster, ownership, etc) are reluctant, if not totally unwilling, to move the top end of the team and ownership has spent a roster's generation (from approximately 2002 to present) shuffling pieces in and out with only an occasional major shakeup (Phaneuf, Regehr, Conroy).

So given the assumption that this method will continue and that to debate management about it is pointless, my argument is that there is a need, within the reasonable expectations of what might Feaster will even consider, to upgrade the complementary talent.

It is clear that Iginla and the rest of the core are no longer capable of performing at the level that a core must if their team is to challenge, but it has also been made clear that changes to some of the proverbial sacred cows of the organization will not be considered.

The reason I argue for a significant upgrade in the supporting cast is because there is a window of opportunity this off-season for it. Management's willingness, the expiry of several contracts, and the market's stock have all coincided to give the Flames this option.

This does give me a good opportunity to bring up a question for you, Kent. I'm led to believe that Iginla prospers in the offensive zone, is a defensive liability and needs to be sheltered in his zone starts and QualComp in order to perform at his historic levels at this point in his career. If I'm wrong, please correct me. But, if those statements are accurate, then what might be a viable trade partner for a player with those strengths and weaknesses and with his age and (brief)cap hit? Just curious.

Not speaking for Kent here, but, answer:

A desperate GM who remembers last year and thinks that a big, strong body who's not read for pasture yet and has scored 500+ goals will put his already talented line-up over the top because, heck, he's also gone to the finals and won gold at the WJ and Olympics.

Besides, the Calgary MSM have been telling anyone who'd listen for years now that he's the greatest leader since Julius Caeser crossed the Rubicon.

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